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Chapters of my Dad

Chapter One

My Dad never mentioned his grandfather from his Dad’s side. It’s like my grandfather just fell onto the face of the planet with no father. Now, my research finds his Dad in a boarding house as a child. Perhaps he was an orphan or he ran away. But my Dad had an immense love and knowledge of his grandmother and her family fight for their native land in Oklahoma. Anyway, my Dad’s father was a musician. He played the trumpet. He frequented around the jazz scene in Kansas City down on 18th and Vine. He was educated. His back up plan was being an English teacher. He served in the Korean War. He fell in love with my grandmother. They married and had two sons. He loved my Dad and his brother. I suppose that is where my Dad learned that seamless love for his grandmother. Then my grandfather didn’t want to be an English teacher. He wanted to be a musician. But all his friends were in Europe playing in bands. He went to the war remember… Then he didn’t love my grandmother anymore. And he didn’t love my Dad or his brother. I remember my grandfather singing to me. He was tall and thin with a gap between his front teeth like me. I remember khaki pants and a black hat. My father remembered the police being called. He remembers slammed doors and black jack beatings. He remembers empty gin bottles and knives. He remembers kidnappings and abandonment. That’s the first chapter.

Chapter Two

My Dad stayed away from home. He ate meals at friends homes because my grandfather cooked half raw hamburgers because the doctor said he would die if he continued to drink on an empty stomach. My Dad was teased a lot. He wore third passed down clothing and the same one pair of shoes all year. So he developed a quick wit and quicker right hand punch. And he was a gentleman because his grandmother would have it no other way. And he knew what praying with purpose meant. And his poker face earned him instant street credibility. And he was a fast runner and loyal to the game of fostering respect. He earned the friendship of my uncles and won the heart of my mother. He loved her. He said I came about after them messing around one day after school. They were 16. He got a job at Church’s chicken and bought my mother food home. Then, some say it was an attempted robbery some say it was my father being witty. But, he was shot. And paralyzed. And then he didn’t love my mother anymore and moved to another state away from me. That’s the second chapter.

Chapter Three

He started over in a new city. And later told me stories of girlfriends with snakes and winning dance contests in his wheelchair. He had a devoted love to his mother even though she never came back for him when she moved and his father kidnapped him. He sometimes called me. He sometimes visited when he came back to visit Kansas City. That was very weird looking at somebody who had the same eyes and chin and cheekbones and smile. I would turn my head but he would stare at me. My uncles still had a sincere respect for my father. My mother was married now and I had a younger sister and brother. And my dad’s father was still mean to my father. And one day the time ticked and the gun went off. There were no prison accommodations for my father being in a wheelchair so it was self-defense with no trial no nothing. And my father never came back to Kansas City. And 26 years went by. That’s the third chapter.

Chapter Four

After everyone had left the room, he told me he was afraid I was going to come in and slap him. He was nervous I was going to curse him out in front of everyone. Because of the 26 years. That never crossed my mind. I wanted to see if we still had the same cheekbones and smile. We did. We also discovered we prefer brown liquor and we’re not embarrassed to curse wherever. Our combined comedic timing kept the conversation easy and flowing. He wanted four things, (1) that I look him in the eye and say I forgive him (2) that I spend the night so we can talk and he can stare at me (3) we keep the television turned on with his favorite video game, “Call of Duty” on the home screen and (4) his hand held bible stay on the hospital tray. I gave him all but #2. I spent the night over my cousin’s house. My father died. That is chapter four.

Chapter Five

He was at peace with all he had done in life. He had space in his heart to justify everything and have no regret. He told me stories upon stories that filled 26 years but in none of them did he try and justify why he wasn’t there for me. He simply thought I would be better without all he was carrying. Me forgiving him was his primary goal in January of 2009. Everyone knew my name at his funeral services. People that had gone on my website and bought my books and cd’s wanted my autograph. He was my public relations person in the Midwest and I didn’t even know. He told everyone about me. I was this mystery daughter that he described as a go-getter. They told me 26 years worth of stuff on me. Things that I didn’t even know he knew. That is chapter five.

Chapter Six

And all these chapters have a direct impact on my mental health. My emotional capabilities as well. The chapters set the parameters of how much of a risk I’ll take in life. How much I will let one get away with before I respond. That is why this book will be written. So I can demonstrate to others that parents being there or not being there does matter and generational cycles are as real as the sun in the sky. Love and hate can easily be mixed with the same atoms. The proof is my life paralleled with the chapters of my Dad. That is chapter 6.

from the book, “yardwork”

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Tears are for Clowns

My younger brother hadn’t heard from his father in a few months.  But this is not unusual for their relationship as they could go months on end without talking.  They had a unique way of communicating.  They usually communicated through other people in the streets, “Have you seen my Dad around lately?” or “I saw your father he told me to tell you to come by and see him.”  Well, the fall of 2013, my brother had been asking around about his father for a few months and everyone continued to tell him, “no, I haven’t seen your Pops.”  Christmas morning of 2013, after the kids opened their gifts and everyone enjoyed a light breakfast, my brother said he was physically moved to go to his laptop and type the words, “homicides in Kansas City” to do a search for his father’s name.  I imagine he held his breath as he waited to be satisfied that this intuitive notion was simply a crazy thought.  However, the search was conclusive, September 16th his father had been murdered.

My brother was screaming in the phone.  I haven’t heard him scream since he was a young boy perhaps frightened by a spider.  The sound of this chilled me to my bones.  A piercing baritone is not melodic.  It shatters the musical science of healing and bends wavelengths.  My breath sat in my throat.  His father was stabbed in September and died a few weeks later in early October.  A search for funeral services or posted obituaries turned up nothing.  See, his father was a loner, a rolling stone.  The online documentation stated he was stabbed several times in the chest and once in the heart during an argument on 39th and Main.  My brother was flattened at the thought that his father probably went into surgery and never gained consciousness to give the name of a next of kin.  He died alone.  My brother’s Christmas turned into Memorial Day.

Continue reading Tears are for Clowns

another reason I do

The 1870 census states that my great, great, great grandfather, Isacc Nash, was a farmer and married with four children in Virginia.

The 1880 census states that he died in the Nottoway County jail “a lunatic and idiot” at the age of 40.

Fast forward 2014, his great, great grand daughter (my mother) wept when she read those words.  Of course she didn’t know him.  We don’t even have photos.  “A lunatic and idiot”… is pretty harsh.  What happened in those 10 years?

And history isn’t important?  And black history isn’t important?  And you want to know why if I’m not reading, I’m writing?

another reason why I do what I do.

love,

nikki skies

nikkiwithcoffeeattable

 

rural me

ruralstreets

Ors Jacques was my paternal great grandfather.  He was half African and half French/Canadian and somehow made his way down south and fell in love with my paternal great grandmother from Birmingham, Al., Willa Mae.  Together they had six children and found their way to Omaha, Nebraska where they reared them and the majority of their families still reside.  She was his second wife.

I’ve always had this strong fetter with the south and have been fascinated with the simplistic beauty of rural life.  Us city folk buy nicely crafted flower pots and arrange them for balance in our yards and porches.  We re-fresh our curio cabinets with the seasons new symmetrically cut vases and treasured memoirs from recent travels.  And we call it home.

The homes on the rural back road yards are decorated with rotary mowers that stopped in that very spot some 40 years ago and now house the annual bloom of black eyed susans in April.  A garden of fall vegetables grow in the back yard near the separated garage every year.  The porch houses coffee cans of “particularly” favorite flowers such as tulips and mums.  The chipped paint on the homes reveal their age just as the rings on an oak tree.  And then there are the songs, and sometimes screams, that command the wind.  These and the trees.  Church bakes and the lakes.  Wooded water pales and old wives tales.  I’m finding pleasure in tracing my family tree.

ruralporches

My great grandfathers’ family has been traced from Wivelsfield, England to Canada to Iowa to Alabama to Nebraska.  And it was easy to go back as far as the 1700’s to find them.  I look forward to finding when the name changed from Jacques to Jakes.  It appears to have happened somewhere from Iowa to Alabama.  Now my great grandmother… I can’t get past her mother in 1892.  Where does she come from?  Did she know?  That is why that rural part of me loves the south.  Because there is so much to learn and hear.  And imagine.  Turning the dirt is like shaking a bag of bones to tell your fortune or in most cases, explain your past.

I have a covenant to write of the south to encourage people of color to speak a resolve within themselves of not knowing where and who.  While many probably don’t even think of it, I believe this is a part of our psychological warfare that effects our mental health.  While I will continue to trace my family in England, I will also continue my love for the rural south and listen for the voices of my families names of Nash, Michaels, Browns, Clays, Curtles and Mills.